Page:Stories by Foreign Authors (French II).djvu/87

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waiting for a moment of weakness on Dominique's part. He still counted on winning him over. There was a dead silence. From the distance were heard violent claps of thunder. A sultry heat weighed upon the country; and, in the midst of this silence, a shriek burst forth,—

——"The French! the French!"

It was really they. On the Sauval road, on the outskirts of the wood, you could make out the line of red trousers. Inside the mill there was an extraordinary hubbub. The Prussian soldiers ran about with guttural exclamations. For the rest, not a shot had been fired yet.

——"The French! the French!" screamed Françoise, clapping her hands.

She was like mad. She had broken loose from her father's embrace, and she laughed, her arms waving in the air. At last they were coming and they had come in time, since Dominique was still there, erect!

A terrible firing that burst upon her ears like a thunder-stroke made her turn round. The officer had just muttered:

——"First of all, let us finish this job."

And, pushing Dominique up against the wall of a shed with his own hands, he had ordered, "Fire!" When Françoise turned round, Dominique was lying on the ground, his breast pierced with twelve bullets.

She did not weep; she stood there in a stupor.